STOURBRIDGE midfielder Brad Birch will miss the start of the season through injury.

The Glassboys have been handed the injury blow after scans revealed the former Worcester City man needs an operation on his knee.

Manager Ian Long confirmed: "It's a big blow because Brad is just our sort of player.

"He's been keen to get going and is all action in there. It's disappointing for us and for him but credit to him he's been working on his upper body and has been keen to get involved.

"He'll be out for four to six weeks and will then need to get back to full fitness.

"It's a shame but we do have a lot of competition in midfield and his absence means someone else could get an opportunity."

Fellow midfielders Jake Evans and Tom Tonks may have to miss this Saturday's trip to Nantwich after also picking up pre-season knocks.

The game at Nantwich is Stour's final warm-up game ahead of their Southern League Central opener at Hitchin on August 10.

"It's going to be a proper test for us and the toughest game of our pre-season," added Long.

"We'll certainly learn a lot more about where we are as a side. Nantwich are a very good Northern Premier League team and it should be a good game for us before we finally get underway."

Long is still searching for another forward despite seeing Stour win 6-0 at Stourport Swifts last weekend.

With no signing imminent, Long is hoping others can step up to the challenge.

He said: "It would be nice if the answers came from within the squad and I wouldn't put it past one of them to start banging in the goals as soon as the season gets up and running.

"If we have to go with what we've got then so be it.

"We've got a lot of the best lads from the teams around the area and there is no reason why we can't have a successful season.

"The only concern at the moment is that we don't seem to be in a place where we can play badly but nick a win cos of a forward that can take that one chance."

Meanwhile, both Andre Landell and Ryan Winwood have now officially joined the Stour ranks after spending pre-season at Amblecote.